Saturday, September 8, 2018

Church of England staring at oblivion as just 2% of young Britons say they identify with it

From The Independent-

The number of people who identify as belonging to the Church of England has dropped to a record low in an “unrelenting decline” that could threaten the denomination’s future, research suggests.
CofE affiliation has fallen to just 2 per cent among adults aged 18 to 24, while the majority of every age group now has no religion, the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found.

The number of Britons who describe themselves as part of the church has more than halved since 2002, from 31 per cent to 14 per cent. The number who actually attend sermons is far lower.

The sharpest drop was among 45- to 54-year-olds, only 11 per cent of whom identify with the CofE compared to 35 per cent in 2002.

The strongest affiliation with the church was among over-60s, but even there a minority of 30 per cent say they belong to the denomination.

More here-

Cardinal Wuerl Recognizes Calls for ‘New Leadership’ – Proposes Season of Healing

From NCR-

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington on Thursday recognized calls for new leadership in the archdiocese, including from local priests, but did not say whether he was considering stepping down.
In a September 6 letter to the priests of the archdiocese, Wuerl referenced a 90-minute period of prayer and discernment he had held with the priests of diocese three days earlier, before the annual Labor Day cookout.

“Among the many observations was that the archdiocese would be well served by new leadership to help move beyond the current confusion, disappointment and disunity,” he said in the letter.
Wuerl, who has faced growing calls for resignation over allegations of mishandling abuse reports, did not elaborate on his future leadership intentions. Sources have told CNA that Wuerl had hoped to stay on as Archbishop of Washington until the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly in November.

More here- 

and here-

Welby proposes radical tax reforms

From The Church Times-

BIBLE verses are not normally traded at press conferences, but there was a sharp exchange on Wednesday, when the Archbishop of Canterbury launched a radical set of proposals to reform the UK economy.

The proposals are contained in Prosperity and Justice, a report produced by the Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) Commission on Economic Justice, of which Archbishop Welby is a member. The report’s premise is that wealthy individuals and corporations must contribute more to ensure a just society.

“Isn’t there a risk that, if the Government were to impose a wealth tax, particularly on earnings that people had already paid tax on, they would fall foul of the eighth commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal’?” Sky’s economics editor, Ed Conway, asked.

More here- 

and here-

Bp. Prior on Canon Pipkin’s Case

From The Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, writes to his diocese about accusations brought against the Rev. Canon Michael Pipkin:

I write this day asking for your prayers.

Every person in discernment for a possible call to the episcopate encounters a deep vulnerability — not only for the potential candidate, but for their family as well.

The Episcopal Church in Colorado has removed your Missioner for Missional Management, Michael Pipkin, from consideration in their bishop search.

As such, I ask for your prayers for the entire Pipkin family, as well as the Episcopal Church in Colorado, as they continue to discern whom God is calling to be their next bishop.
Once I became aware that concerns were raised about Michael, which led to his removal, I gathered together the President of the Standing Committee, Tom Cook, the Chair of the Personnel Committee, Judy Shoulak and the Chancellor for ECMN, Doug Franzen. This group counseled that we seek to gather all relevant material regarding these concerns in order to conduct our own independent inquiry.

More here-

Friday, September 7, 2018

Diocese of Colorado drops candidate from bishop search process

From Colorado-

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Colorado on Sept. 6 released the following letter regarding the search process for the diocese’s next bishop diocesan.

Dear People of God in The Episcopal Church in Colorado:

In the last several days, we have received reports of serious personal, professional, and vocational issues involving The Reverend Canon Michael Pipkin. Because we recognize that these complaints are serious, and because they cannot be resolved prior to our October 27 election, the Standing Committee voted unanimously on August 29 to remove him from consideration in the upcoming election for the 11th Bishop of Colorado.

As these changes in our discernment and election process have unfolded, we have been in close communication with Canon Pipkin’s bishop as well as with Bishop Todd Ousley, who works for the Presiding Bishop and provides oversight and guidance for all episcopal elections. These allegations have been referred to them for further action under the provision of The Episcopal Church’s canons.

More here-

Two longtime state representatives ousted in primary upsets

From Boston-

In a pair of major upsets, two longtime state representatives and high-ranking Democrats were unseated in Tuesday’s primary election, according to unofficial results. 

State Representative Byron Rushing, the House assistant majority leader and the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, was defeated by Jon Santiago, a Boston Medical Center emergency medicine resident. In a three-person race, Santiago received 48 percent of the vote to Rushing’s 37 percent. 

State Representative Jeff Sánchez, a Jamaica Plain Democrat and the House Ways and Means chairman, was defeated, 52 percent to 48 percent, by Nika Elugardo, who has worked for a number of state and local advocacy organizations.  

More here-

Albany Episcopal Diocese discusses resolution on same-sex marriages

From Albany-

More than 130 clergy members from the Albany Episcopal Diocese spent Thursday morning discussing the recent passage of resolution B012, which will allow same-sex couples to be married in the churches, including the Albany diocese, where gay marriage remains forbidden.

But as members exited the Christ the King Center that afternoon, no answers were offered as to what would happen next for the Albany diocese.

Albany Bishop William Love, who spoke with The Times Union following the meeting, said the time was used to pray, worship and converse in private.

More here-

Debunking Myths about Origen

From The Patristics Project-

Whenever the topic of Origen presents itself, it seems to always come packaged together with a whirlwind of false information. I have seen, time and time again, Origen summoned by ignorant men merely to be whipped and sent back to the dungeon. One internet commentator even said, “Origen is only worth quoting if you are commenting on his heresy.” The image of Origen has become so marred by the mud of slander, accusation, and polemic, that one finds it difficult to discern what is actually Origen and what is not. Most people, whether they realize it or not, have uncritically sided with Jerome’s polemical rhetoric over and against his rival translator Rufinus, rather than the objective evidence. However, modern scholarship has discovered that past negative assertions of Rufinus’ translations of Origen were misled and incorrect. Contrary to Jerome’s assertions, Rufinus was not trying to hide Origen’s errors in his translations. Rufinus even states that he would not mess with Origen’s speculations and oddities but would only fix what he considered to be malicious additions concerning the Trinity alone:[1] not because he had some secret agenda and wanted people to accept Origen, but because such content contradicted Origen’s own words in other places. So, in the name of charity, Rufinus simply made Origen agree with himself to kill two birds with one stone: 1) undoing the foreign additions to Origen’s work, and 2) clearing away the cloud of scandal surrounding Origen, so we can all benefit from his work.

More here-

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Crisis—but Not of Faith

From The Wall Street Journal-

In the ancient creed recited at Mass on Sundays, Catholics affirm their belief in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” It’s not difficult to imagine hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Catholics in the U.S. choking on that second adjective over the past several months.

Grisly allegations of sexually abusive clergy in Chile, Honduras, Ireland, Great Britain, Australia and the U.S.; the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington unmasked as a serial sexual predator specializing in the degradation of seminarians under his authority; clueless and bureaucratic responses to these crimes from some bishops seemingly incapable of sharing the rage being expressed by their people; unprecedented charges of inattention to sexual abuse against a sitting pope, first leveled by furious lay Catholics in Chile and then by a retired Vatican diplomat; stonewalling in Rome; unhinged polemics across the spectrum of Catholic opinion: Where is the holiness of the Church in all of this? 

Little wonder, then, that some of my fellow-Catholics have taken to the internet and the op-ed pages, not just to condemn gross failures of Catholic leadership but to confess to a crisis of faith. In this summer of nightmare, with the bad news by no means all out, the gag reflex of many Catholics is entirely understandable.

More here-

Archbishop Welby should spend more time saving his Church from extinction - and rather less copying Corbyn

From The Daily Mail-

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a decent and well-intentioned man. Justin Welby is intelligent, too, and knows about money, having worked in the oil industry before becoming a priest.

Nor is there any question that lots of people in our society feel left behind, or in common parlance 'marginalised'. How else can one explain the astounding success of Jeremy Corbyn despite his obvious weaknesses?

Moreover, as a man of God, Mr Welby has every right to represent the poor, as indeed he should. Jesus Christ spent far more time with the dispossessed than with the rich and powerful.

So I've no quarrel with the Archbishop for speaking up on behalf of those who have no voice. But I'm afraid he is very unwise to have associated himself with a controversial and, I believe, often wrong-headed economic report.

More here-

Church leaders resign over Anglican decision on same-sex blessings

From New Zealand-

A Blenheim minister and his two assistant pastors have resigned over the Anglican Church's decision to allow blessings of same-sex married couples.

St Christopher's Church minister Sam Anderson said he intended to leave the Anglican Church of New Zealand altogether, saying he did not think the Bible endorsed same-sex relationships. 
"It's not easy to be a Christian in today's society, so if you're actually going to be a Christian you may as well hold onto what you believe rather than running with the crowd," Anderson said.

The Anglican ruling body, the general Synod, voted in May to allow same-sex blessings, but only if they are authorised by the local bishop. Former Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews discusses the regional synod vote in March.  

More here-

Early Americans’ struggles immortalized at the Washington Memorial Chapel

From Reading-

Symbolism reigns supreme at one of the grandest and most evocative edifices in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Its location on the most prominent hill of Valley Forge National Historical Park commands attention. But, within its walls are relics and reminders of American history.

That becomes evident just inside the entrance.

The "Justice Bell," a one-ton replica of the Liberty Bell, was commissioned in 1915 by Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger and became an icon for the suffrage movement. Mrs. Ruschenberger willed what was once called the "Women's Liberty Bell" to the chapel, and it remains as a reminder of the women's struggles to win the right to vote.

The Washington Memorial Chapel is actually not on Valley Forge National Park grounds; it is a parish of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1903.

More here-

Saint Michael church teams up with developers for new mixed-use project in North Dallas

From Dallas-

The last large vacant development site in North Dallas' exclusive Preston Center district is being planned for a major mixed-use development.

Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church has owned the almost 4-acre block at Douglas Avenue and Frederick Square for more than a decade.

An apartment complex once sat on the land located just east of the Dallas North Tollway.
Now the church — which has been in Preston Center since 1948 — is teaming up with Dallas developer Lincoln Property Co. to build residential and commercial buildings as part of an expansion of the church's campus. 

A large underground parking garage would meet the needs of both Saint Michael and the new development.

More here-

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Best-selling author Barbara Brown Taylor writes first children’s book

From Atlanta-

Barbara Brown Taylor has been called one of the effective preachers in the English language.
She’s one of Christianity’s most influential writers.

Now, the Georgia-based theologian and best-selling author of “Leaving Church” and “Learning to Walk in the Dark” has turned her attention to reaching young minds.

“Christmas is a tough season,” said Taylor, who recently released her first children’s book, “Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story” on Flyaway Books.

“There is so much oversell and such high expectations,” she said. “Everyone gets into buying and selling happiness a lot. This is a quieter story.”

More here-

Minister who railed against same-sex marriages resigns after disrespecting his wife

From Florida-

An anti-gay Anglican minister in Florida resigned last week after admitting to sexual harassment and “undesired physical displays of affection.” Dudley is married and the father of three.

Father Eric Dudley is the founder of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee and was the leader of that church until he resigned.

In a letter sent to parishioners by the Bishop Neil G. Lebhar of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, complaints were brought against Dudley and an inquiry was launched by senior priests.

“Father Dudley admitted to inappropriate treatment of others, abuse of alcohol, and anger issues,” Lebhar wrote. “The complaints included patterns of undesired physical displays of affection which were deeply damaging to others and contrary to diocesan harassment policy.”

More here-

Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s national youth coordinator killed in gun attack

From ACNS-

The national youth coordinator for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) has died after being shot while travelling to Yei. Thousands of young people gathered at the house of Joseph Kiri yesterday (Monday) to pay their respects for the youth worker and evangelist, who was killed just days after the Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, said more needed to be done to turn a peace deal on paper into peace on the ground.

In addition to his work with the ECSS, Joseph Kiri worked for a church humanitarian organisation Across. He was shot near the village of Limbe, a few kilometres away from Yei, when unknown gunmen targeted his NGO vehicle. He was travelling to Yei to deliver field reports for Across, where he worked as a nutrition officer.

The Executive Director of Across, Elisama Wani Daniel, said that Kiri died instantly after being shot in the chest as the vehicle was sprayed with bullets. His driver, Maliamungu, managed to escape and ran to a military base at Limbe. Soldiers rushed to the scene of the attack and recovered Kiri’s body, which was being transferred to the capital Juba, today.

More here-

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Anglican Primate, Okoh explains why homosexuality has taken over Nigeria

From Nigeria-

Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, says homosexuality is “veritably poisoning” the Nigerian society.

Okoh told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the unlawful act was being fed by “disintegration of social values and cultures.’’

The cleric blamed the development on the influence of western culture facilitated by the internet and satellite broadcasting.

“Homosexuality hinders the progress of a nation and such ungodly images should never be shown in Nigeria.

“It is pertinent to note that the advent of satellite broadcasting has continued to pose a serious challenge to our traditional cultures, religious values and our identity as a people.

More here-

Whatever Prayer Is For, It Isn’t That

From Freelance Christianity-

A week ago, the small Episcopal church that I frequently attend moved its morning services out of the sanctuary into a beautiful August morning, heading a half mile down the road to a town park on Narragansett Bay. A small table in the gazebo served as the altar, as twenty-five or so 8:00 service regulars enjoyed a modest version of taking the gospel into the streets (or at least onto the grass).

During the passing of the peace, one of the regulars at the adult education seminar that I lead after morning services once a month told me a story. Betty, who used to be a fifth-grade teacher, knows that I recently signed a contract to write a book on prayer with the working title “Prayer for People Who Don’t Believe in God.” One of her eleven-year-old students once posed the following problem:

What if there were two babies who were both sick with something that might be fatal. A whole bunch of people pray for the first baby to get better, while no one prays for the second baby. Is God more likely to heal the first baby rather than the second baby?

More here-

A contested bishop’s election in Haiti, Canon III.11.8, and unintended consequences

From Episcopal Cafe-

Shortly after the election of Dean Kerwin Delicat of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-au-Prince, as bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Haiti, the requisite number of lay and clerical delegates filed objections under this canon. This is the first instance in which this canon has been put to the test.

In an interview with ENS, Bishop Ousley (bishop for pastoral development on the Presiding Bishop’s staff) said; “it is clear that while the provincial court of review is given a role in the contestation process, the canons say the role is that of an information-gathering body charged with producing a report on the allegations, not acting as a court. Normally, the court of review functions within the church’s clergy discipline canons.  They’re not going to make a judgment about guilty or not guilty. They’re not necessarily going to come down on one side or another.”

Instead, its report will be a compilation of the information the members were able to get. “It’s not the court’s responsibility to decide for the church or to tip the process one way or another,” he said. The group might say that certain allegations are true or not. “But more than likely, it is going have a number of things that will say ‘on the one hand but on the other,’” he said.

More here-

Separating Facts About Clergy Abuse From Fiction

From Psychology Today-

The recent release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church during the past 70 years has unleashed another round of headline news and sadly, much misinformation about this critically important problem. Few topics elicit more emotion and rage from the public than sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests. Certainly those most impacted by this terrible story, victims and their families, often express great emotion such as anger, disgust, and deep sadness, but even those who have never had anything to do with the Catholic Church, priests, or know any victims often do so in equal measure as well. With such emotion, inevitably, misinformation abounds.

As someone who has been conducting research in this area, evaluates and treats both victims and perpetrators, conducts psychological evaluations and screenings of applicants to Catholic seminaries, and has served on child protection committees for the Church at national, regional, and local levels for 30+ years, it is important, in my view, to separate fact from fiction concerning this explosive and highly emotional topic. While whole books could be written about this topic (and I’ve published three of them since the 1990s) here I’ll address just a few of the major areas of misinformation that gets the most attention in the press about clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Separating fact from fiction is critically needed if we are truly interested in keeping children safe from possible sex offenders inside and outside of the Catholic Church. 

More here-

Monday, September 3, 2018

English bishops: a quiet and unnoticed scandal

From Christianity Today-

There has been much thankfulness among many Anglican evangelicals about the church's newest bishop.

The announcement that Philip Mounstephen, who currently heads the Church Mission Society (CMS), is to be the next Bishop of Truro has generally been reckoned as good news for evangelicals in the Church of England.

Philip Mounstephen is widely recognised as someone who will do the sorts of things bishops do with godliness, kindness and competence. In a statement accompanying the announcement, he said: 'The Diocese of Truro exists to love and serve the people of Cornwall in word and deed in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of his Spirit – and my job is to lead the diocese in that calling.' And who could argue with that? Moreover, Anglicanism in Cornwall has sometimes seemed quite hostile to evangelicals, so his appointment can be seen as a bit of a breakthrough for them.

But amid all the rightful praise, an awkward question was posed in one of the online discussion groups of which I am a member. And the query was simply this: 'Is he a complementarian?' It was an astute point. For those of you who don't keep up with theological language, there are basically two views of men's and women's ministries in Anglicanism. The first might be termed 'egalitarian' (men and women are equal and their roles within the church should thus be identical, with both being bishops); the second is 'complementarian' (men and women are equal but different and therefore their church roles should be different; women should not have 'headship' over men in the church).

More here-

Living with Cranmer’s Lectionary

From The Living Church-

At the time of the Reformation, Anglican Reformers guided a church whose grasp of Scripture among both lay and ordained was pitiful. They set out on the multigenerational task of changing this from the grassroots up. Although medieval priests were required to observe the sevenfold Daily Office, until 1549 each parish’s focal point of worship was likely to have been some version of the Mass to begin the day, with the Angelus rung out three times a day. These were replaced by Morning and Evening Prayer said daily in the parish church, and in that context there was a thorough and ordered reading of Old and New Testaments, some Apocrypha, and a monthly cycle of the Psalms.

Cranmer’s Daily Office, adapted from the sevenfold Office, was a brilliant innovation, yet I find myself wondering whether its expectations of an uneducated population with limited literacy may not have been too high, especially for absorbing Scripture. The Lectionary and Kalendar in the opening pages of the 1552/1662 Book of Common Prayer remained the norm for three centuries, only slightly modified in the Victorian era, before being eviscerated in the 20th century — during which time, even among the faithful, daily Scripture reading dropped out of fashion.

More here-

Churchgoer shouts 'shame on you' at Cardinal Wuerl during Mass

From ABC-

Protesters confronted the archbishop of Washington in Mass on Sunday as he addressed the ballooning sexual abuse scandal within the church. 

One parishioner shouted "shame on you" and walked out as Cardinal Donald Wuerl spoke about the scandal on Sunday, while another turned her back in protest of him, according to video posted on social media. 

"Yes, my brothers and sisters, shame. I wish I could redo everything over these 30 years as a bishop and each time get it always right," Wuerl said in response to the protesters. 

More here-

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Government fund launched to help preserve at-risk places of worship

From The Telegraph-

A £1.8m pilot scheme has been launched to preserve some of Britain’s listed places of worship that are at risk. 

The Government-funded scheme, which will be managed by Historic England, will fund urgent repairs and help volunteers maintain listed buildings including churches, synagogues, and meeting houses in two pilot areas, Suffolk and Greater Manchester. 

The two regions were picked because one is more urban and other other more rural, with the project designed to implement recommendations from last year’s Taylor Review which examined the sustainability of English churches and cathedrals. 

The report found that church buildings play a "vital role" in offering public services, and give communities a sense of identity. 

More here-

Gambier seminarian later tried for heresy

From Ohio-

Long before Bexley Hall was a part of Kenyon College, the building was the site of an Episcopal seminary school founded in parallel by the college's founder, Bishop Philander Chase.

For many years, before the organization broke off from Kenyon and relocated elsewhere, it served as a training ground for ministers for the Episcopal Church, and many of its students went on to prominent lives in the church across the United States.

But there was one student the seminary school probably later wanted to forget. William Montgomery Brown became briefly infamous in the 1920s, when he become the only person in modern church history to be put on trial for heresy.

More here-

On living with dementia - a call for hope and urgency: Tracey Lind (Opinion)

From Cleveland-

On Election Day 2016, I was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD). This early onset dementia brought my career as dean of Cleveland's Trinity Cathedral to an abrupt and unexpected end. Like millions around the globe, I now live with a neurological condition that is not fully understood, and for which there is limited treatment but no cure.

Dementia, per se, is not a disease, but rather, an umbrella covering a broad category of symptoms. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 5.7 million Americans of all ages.

Dementia is in my DNA. My mother, maternal grandfather and two aunts all died with it. I watched my mother and others hide their dementia, ashamed and embarrassed, as if it were a weakness, a punishment, or even a sin. I liken dementia to cancer in the 1960s or AIDS in the 1980s - spoken of in hushed voices with an undercurrent of blaming the victim. If only she had eaten less red meat and more green vegetables; if only he had done a crossword puzzle every morning; if only she had practiced yoga or meditation for the past 10 years; and so on. No wonder people with dementia want to hide it.

More here-